September 2019

To strive is given to us; success is always His. So never feel beaten out – STRIVE. – Chinmaya

The above quote summarises the message of the Bhagavad Geeta:

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन । मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भू: मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि||
(Your right is in action, not in the results. May you not perform actions for the results nor remain actionless.)

Former President of India, Abdul Kalam speaks about his first meeting with Pujya Swami Shivanandji Maharaj of Divine Life Society:

“I want to tell you about an important incident that happened in my life in 1958.
When I was a young boy, I wanted to become a pilot. That was my dream. I applied to the Air Force and was asked to attend an interview with the Air Force Selection Board at Dehradun.
In the interview, after four days of difficult tasks, out of 25 applicants, nine were selected. I was ninth, but they wanted only eight. So I was rejected.

I was very dejected.  While returning, I came to Rishikesh. After bathing in the Ganges, when I was putting on my dhoti, I saw a beautiful building on the other side of the river. It was Swami Shivanandji’s ashram. I went there. Swami Shivananda was sitting on a pedestal giving Satsang to hundreds of people. I sat in the last row.

After his discourse on the Bhagavad Gita, normally he would randomly select two people from the crowd for an interview. I was one of the two selected. I don’t know what made him select me. He called me to his chamber, looked at me and said in Tamil, “What’s your name?” “Abdul Kalam,” I replied. “Why are you sad?“ he asked. This great one, this chosen one, this godly person, knew of my sorrow! I replied, “Swamiji, I am coming after attending an interview conducted by the Air Force. But I was not selected as a pilot.”

Swami Shivananda looked at me. I was such a small fellow in front of him. Then he opened the Bhagavad Gita and said, “When Arjuna tells Krishna that he is afraid of fighting Kurukshetra war, Krishna tells him, ‘Defeat the defeatist tendency.’”

Swami Shivananda asked me to repeat the statement “Defeat the defeatist tendency.” three times. I repeated it three times and I was cheered up. He then gave me twenty of his books published in Tamil and English. It was such a great experience.

So, friends, I will never forget this incident in my life. I am now seventy-one. Swami Shivananda’s mantra: “Defeat the defeatist tendency” is always with me and that great philosophy and advice which Lord Krishna gave to Arjuna always come to me whenever I’m in trouble.”

As it is rightly said, “Do your best and leave the rest.” Let us do what best we can, and let Him decide what we deserve. 

In 1938, Karoly Takacs of the Hungarian Army was the top 25-meter rapid fire pistol shooter in the world.  He was expected to win the gold in the 1940 Olympic games scheduled for Tokyo.  Those expectations vanished one terrible day just months before the Olympics.  While training with his army squad, a faulty hand grenade exploded in Takacs’ right hand, and the shooting hand was badly injured.

Takacs spent a month in the hospital depressed at both the loss of his hand and the end to his Olympic dream.  However, Takacs did the unthinkable – he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and decided to learn how to shoot with his left hand!  His reasoning was simple.  He simply asked himself, “Why not?’’ Instead of focusing on what he didn’t have – a world-class right shooting hand – he decided to focus on what he did have – incredible mental toughness, and a healthy left hand that with time, could be developed to shoot like a champion.

For months Takacs practised by himself.  No one knew what he was doing.  Maybe he didn’t want to subject himself to people who most certainly would have discouraged him from his rekindled dream.  In the spring of 1939, he showed up at the Hungarian National Pistol Shooting Championship. 

Many came to express their sympathy.

 “Our condolences!”, Some said.

Others said, “Thanks a lot for coming all the way here to watch our performance and to cheer us!”

They were surprised when he said, “I have not come to watch; I have come to compete!” 

The competitions began. They were all the more surprised when Takacs won!

The 1940 and 1944 Olympics were cancelled because of World War II.  It looked like Takacs’ Olympic Dream would never have a chance to realize itself.  But Takacs kept training and in 1948 he qualified for the London Olympics.

At the age of 38, Takacs won the Gold Medal by beating the then reigning world champion and setting a new world record.  Four years later, Takacs won the Gold Medal again at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

What is the difference between a winner and a loser?

The winner always has a plan; the loser always has an excuse…    The winner sees a solution for every problem; the loser sees a problem in every solution…    The winner says, “It may be difficult, but it is possible.”; the loser says, “It may be possible, but it is too difficult.”…    Winners trade short-term-pain for the long term gain; the losers trade short-term-gain and get long-term-pain…   Winners stand firm on values but compromise on petty things; the losers stand firm on petty things but compromise on values…   Winners are like thermostats; losers are like thermometers… Losers quit when they fail; winners fail until they succeed.

Lata Khare, a 65-year-old woman, and her husband practically lived below the poverty line in a small village in Maharashtra. After marrying off their three daughters, they worked as farmhands to survive on daily wages. One morning her husband felt uneasy on account of some infection he seemed to have developed. The medical professional in the village referred them to a hospital in the city. Let alone treatment, they had no money to even travel to the location or pay the doctor’s fee. Somehow managing to borrow just enough to scrape through, the worried couple travelled to Baramati to get Lata’s husband checked.

Several hours, some preliminary tests and a few hundred rupees later, finally, when their turn came, the doctor examined the old man as Lata waited outside with bated breath hoping for good news. Much to her dismay though, the doctor recommended a whole lot of new tests costing a few thousand rupees. There was no way they could arrange that sort of money. Teary-eyed, she pleaded for some way out but the hospital or the doctor couldn’t be of more help. It was already late afternoon by now and they had to get back to their village. Dejected and hopeless, they looked at each other, fearing that they might not be together for long. Following brief moments of denial and disbelief, they realized that they hadn’t eaten anything since morning nor had a glass of water.

While walking back to the bus stop, they stopped by a street vendor who was selling samosas. She pulled out a little handkerchief where she had tied some tens of rupees and ordered two samosas. The vendor handed her one on a piece of newspaper. Smeared with oil and sauce, the paper read “Baramati Marathon Tomorrow”. Apparently, a marathon was on the cards just the next day and it carried prize-money of Rs. 5000.

“I’m running this marathon,” she said to her husband.
“Have you gone crazy?” he retorted. “You want to die too?”
“I’m going for it.”

Against everyone’s advice in the village, including her husband’s and daughters’, Lata Khare showed up at the marathon the next day. She was not wearing any sports clothing, T-shirt or trackies, but the only type of dress she owned and had worn all her life – a saree. If this wasn’t a red flag for the organizers, she wasn’t even wearing shoes. She was barefoot. Citing the great risk of injury, she was refused entry by the organizers.

But Lata remained adamant and stubborn and was in no mood to retreat. Ancient texts have pegged the willpower of a woman at the same level as a king’s, calling ‘Stree-hatha’ at par with ‘Raaja-hatha’, that is, when a woman decides to do something, no one can stop her. Lata Khare proved it that day. The organizers listening to her story and plea finally gave in and allowed her participation just to keep her calm.

Many onlookers cheered for her, some out of sarcasm and others more genuinely. “Go, Aunty, go,” they chanted.

Lata Khare hitched her saree to her knees and, against all odds, ran like there was no tomorrow. For the record, 42 kilometres (26 miles) make a marathon and it’s not something you train yourself for overnight. Forget winning, without prior preparation and adequate nutrition, most people can’t even complete it. Besides, just finishing it wouldn’t be good enough, she had to win it to get any prize money.

As far as she was concerned, this was the only way out to keep her husband alive. She wasn’t running for a trophy or fame, she was running for life, literally. If anything, it wasn’t she but her love for her husband that ran on that paved road with no shoes on, with her saree that obstructed her every step. Gravel, pebbles, potholes or just tarred road, onlookers claimed that Lata Khare ran as if she had been possessed.

The question is: did Lata Khare win? An elderly woman running barefoot, competing against those who were physically fitter and better fed and equipped.

Yes, Lata Khare won. She had to. She did.

Let’s try what best we can with full trust in God and His kindness. 

Nothing is impossible for the one blessed by God’s grace!

मूकं करोति वाचालं पङ्गुं लङ्घयते गिरिम् । यत्कृपा तमहं वन्दे परमानन्दमाधवम्||
(My prostrations to that Blissful Lord, by whose grace the dumb becomes eloquent and the lame scales the mountain-peaks.)

O   M         T   A   T         S   A   T

Posted in: Chintana

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